Roger's Postings

Friday, July 12, 2013


Deuteronomy 30:9-14.                        True Prosperity Theology??                14/7/13

 {9)  Then the LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, {10} if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. {11} Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. {12} It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" {13} Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" {14} No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

 We today in our society and in our Christian circles hear much about how to become prosperous. Health, wealth and happiness thinking is rampant. In fact it would seem that this is what the core of life is all about: everything else comes a distant last. Everything else, including our religion, has to fit into this thinking.

 Now if you think that I am somewhat exaggerating this, look around you and the society we live in; listen to what is even being said in some of our churches; and look into your own hearts and lives. Look and ponder! Is not health, wealth and happiness the goal of much of what is going on? Do we not all long for and believe that this is necessary for life? Think about it.

 But already, I can sense the unease that this question poses in our hearts and minds. Already we are seeking after some justification for what is inherent in our lives. Surely these things are important? Surely, God wants us to be blessed in this way? Surely we have to work at these things? Surely ....... Even here in this reading God clearly indicates that he wants to make us prosperous: He wants to bless us: He wants us to be healthy, wealthy and happy? Surely...?

Let us listen again; Then the LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

 So yes God here does talk about prosperity and giving us many blessings. But is that what he says is the core and the basis of life? Is that primarily what Life is all about? Is, us having everything in earthly terms, what makes for the essence of life? Surely not?

 Instead he makes it quite clear that it is He who is all important and our obedience and keeping of his Word which is important. So the focus and centre of what life is all about, is what is brought into sharp focus for us today. Here in this reading as well as in our Gospel reading from Luke, chapter 10;25-37., that same point is made. It is not what I do and think that is important, but God and his Word and our adherence to it that is important. We need to recognise that the blessings of life are just that, his blessings to those who look to him and trust him. The ultimate blessing is that we are connected to and live in accord with him. Not ourselves and our wants and desires.

 In this reading and the verses preceding it, God himself makes quite clear the connection between obedience and his blessings. We were created to live with God who is creator and Lord and in that relationship we will be richly blessed. However because we have chosen to ignore God and his Word and instead choose to do that which we want and to follow the desires of our sinful heart, then we bring poverty and hardship on ourselves.

 We want the blessings; health, wealth and happiness, but not the God who makes it possible. We worship the creation and not the creator: making an idol of the blessings, whilst rejecting and keeping the true God at an arms distance. Then we wonder why health, wealth and happiness becomes a curse instead of a blessing: Why our striving after these things brings the opposite to what we want. Without the Lord they are nothing and they are fruitless.

  Even worse than that is the fact that we are clearly told that if we choose to abandon the covenant that he has made with us; that he will be our God and we his people, and that we are to look to him, trust him, and follow his Word. If we abandon that and go our own way we will bring destruction on ourselves. God’s anger will burn against us. And as we look back through history we see this occurrence again and again. To be sure, we do see great patience on his part, but we see also when he says enough is enough.

 But, it is there also that he says, if we turn from our wicked ways and seek after the Lord and again desire to be obedient to his Word, then he will again bless us richly. When he become truly our Lord and the centre of our lives: when we turn to the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul: as we obey  the LORD our God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law, then he will make us prosperous again.

 So it is no longer ‘I and the ‘I wants’ that drives us and is the focus of life, but God and what he wants. We don’t even think of striving after ‘health, wealth, and happiness,’ for we have something far more important to think of. We want to ‘love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind; and, Love our neighbour as ourself. 

 Here we need to remember what God goes on to say here.  Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

 Yes, we know, that God is for real, and we know what he wants us to do. The problem is so often just want to do our own thing. We want what we want. That is why we need to continually challenge ourselves and one another, to recognise that we are sinful and that we need to turn back to God and take him seriously. That is why we need to regularly gather together here in his house, so that we can be continually reminded of the things that are important to us. That is why we have a strong focus on Jesus Christ and the cross.

 For it is there in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we know that we have a Lord and Saviour who loves us, forgives us, and has a better way for us to live. There we know that we have eternal life with God in heaven. So now we no longer need to have an abundance of ‘health, wealth and happiness.’ For we know that our gracious God will give us what is good for us and for our witness to the people around us.

 Most importantly he gives us that which helps us to continually look to him, trust him, and live in accord with his Word. Sometimes He even takes away some of that ‘health, wealth and happiness’ in order to help us or others to turn back to him. So always he gives to us what helps to focus us on the cross and our relationship with him.

 That being the case we can always be thankful and content for he is blessing us, either through plenty or little. Always we can know that the fullness of God is with us here, just as it was for his Son Jesus as he walked this earth: even as he approaches Jerusalem and the cross. But above all we know that we will share in his glory and plenty in eternity. So to him be all glory and honour, now and always.  AMEN

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

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